Last night we had Luke Hamlyn (www.lukehamlyn.co.uk) lead us in thinking about what worshipping God is all about.
We had a discussion that circled around three questions:
- What is worship?
- Why do we worship?
- What is the importance of sung worship?
Concepts or key words we came up with included:
- We’re all worshippers. We were created to worship, and it’s a question of what we choose to give our attention or adoration. Whenever we give our worship to something other than God, the Bible describes that as idolatry.
- To paraphrase Louis Giglio, if we follow the trail of our time, our money and our attention, we will eventually discover what or who we are ultimately worshipping.
- The same word in Hebrew for ‘worship’ is also used for ‘work’. So our work is (and should be) a form of worship.
- There’s a big relationship between worship and the arts. Worship is often expressed through singing or dancing, but also through writing, through painting, through other forms of artistic expression.
- This reinforces that sense that our work can be our worship. When we create something, we work hard at it, but if we’re creating it for God it’s an act of worship to Him.
- Other Hebrew words for worship also include the sense of bowing down before something.
- Worship is also about responding to or acknowledging something.
- And it often involves a sense of sacrifice. In the Old Testament that was literal sacrifices of animals or crops, in the New Testament the concept is that we are to be “living sacrifices” as we go about our every action in life (Romans 12:1-2).
As part of the discussion on why we worship we talked about just how much it benefits us. It’s not the main reason we do it (we worship primarily because it’s a natural response – when we acknowledge God’s majesty, beauty, wisdom, holiness etc, we fall down in wonder and in worship), but there is something incredibly liberating to the human spirit when we take our eyes off of ourselves, our situations, our problems or even our triumphs, and instead lift our eyes up to God. When our attention is on Him, things in life move to their true perspective, and the result is a greater sense of freedom, joy and peace for ourselves.
And then lastly we talked about the importance of sung worship. True, it is not the only method of worship, as detailed above. And yet the Bible does place a great emphasis on sung worship – much greater than on any one other form of worship. Is this because music and singing are able to connect with us on a deeper emotional or even spiritual level compared with most other things? If we look at cultures across the world, we are hard pressed to find any human society where music and singing has not played a vital part.
Ironically, due to us getting so engrossed in the discussion, we ran out of time for our planned period of extended sung worship. So we will get Luke back on 14 February, and have space for it that evening. Perhaps that actually very appropriate – on Valentine’s Day we will spend a quality evening expressing our love and adoration to God.